vendredi 16 mars 2018

Space Station Science Highlights: Week of Mar 12, 2018

ISS - Expedition 55 Mission patch.

March 16, 2018

International Space Station (ISS). Image Credits: NASA/STS-132

The crew members aboard the International Space Station were busy this week with educational downlinks, emergency training and many hours of scientific operations, while also preparing for three new crew members to arrive following their March 21 launch.

Take a look at some of the science that happened this week aboard your orbiting laboratory:

Investigation studies changes to brain structure and function in spaceflight

Previous research and anecdotal evidence from astronauts suggests movement control and cognition can be affected in microgravity. Using MRI and fMRI imaging, NeuroMapping investigates whether long-duration spaceflight causes changes to brain structure and function. Changes in motor control or multi-tasking abilities are documented as well as the time it takes for the brain and body to recover from possible changes.

Image above: Cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov and other crew members ate some of the red romaine lettuce that was harvested from the VEG-03 experiment. Image Credit: NASA.

This week, NASA astronaut Scott Tingle and JAXA astronaut Norishige Kanai completed NeuroMapping tests in both the “strapped in” and “free-floating” body configurations. The data were collected and downlinked to ground crews.

Crew members conduct fluid mechanics experiments

Using a Slosh study and a Wave Turbulence study, the FLUIDICS investigation examines fluid behavior under microgravity during satellite maneuvers and the impact of capillary effect on wave turbulence without being masked by the effect of gravity.

Beyond a better understanding of fluid movements and fuel tank development for future spacecraft, this experiment also helps to provide a better understanding of how the Earth’s oceans work, including the phenomenon of 'rogue waves'. More broadly, the expected results could help to improve climate prediction systems, and optimize the use of ocean renewable energy.

Image above: Dwarf wheat stalks grow in the Advanced Plant Habitat, a fully automated facility that is being used to support plant bioscience research on the space station in a large, enclosed, environmentally controlled chamber. Image Credit: NASA.

This week, the crew members executed two runs of the FLUIDICS investigation.

Crew begins first week of new ACME operations

The Advanced Combustion Microgravity Experiment (ACME) investigation is a set of studies of gaseous flames to be conducted in the Combustion Integration Rack (CIR), one of which being Electric-Field Effects on Laminar Diffusion Flames (E-FIELD Flames).

In E-FIELD Flames, an electric field with voltages as high as 10,000 volts is established between the burner and a mesh electrode. The motion of the charged ions, which are naturally produced within the flame, are strongly affected by a high-voltage electric field. The resulting ion-driven wind can dramatically influence the stability and sooting behavior of the flame. Measurements are made of electric-field strength, the ion current passing through the flame, and flame characteristics such as the size, structure, temperature, soot, and stability. Conducting the tests in microgravity enables new understanding and the development of less polluting and more efficient combustion technology for use on Earth.

This week marks the first week of E-FIELD flames operations with a very successful first set of ten flames ignited for studying the effects of an electric field on laminar diffusion flames. Preliminary results show that the high-voltage electric field created forces similar to buoyancy. This effect dramatically affected the flame’s shape, intensity, and soot production.

Space to Ground: Neuromapping: 03/16/2018

Other work was done on these investigations: Crew Earth Observations, Veg-03, EMCS, MagVector, Space Headaches, Wisenet, Transparent Alloys, DOSIS-3D, EIISS,  Lighting Effects, ELF, Meteor, Two Phase Flow, Manufacturing Device, Airway Monitoring, Radi-N2, and Plant Habitat.

Related links:



Advanced Combustion Microgravity Experiment (ACME):

Combustion Integration Rack (CIR):

Electric-Field Effects on Laminar Diffusion Flames (E-FIELD Flames):

Crew Earth Observations:




Space Headaches:


Transparent Alloys:



Lighting Effects:



Two Phase Flow:

Manufacturing Device:

Airway Monitoring:


Plant Habitat:

Spot the Station:

Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

Images (mentioned), Video (NASA), Text, Credits: NASA/Michael Johnson/Yuri Guinart-Ramirez, Lead Increment Scientist Expeditions 55 & 56.

Best regards,

NASA Science Heading to Space Ranges from the Upper Atmosphere to Microbes

SpaceX - Dragon CRS-14 Mission patch.

March 16, 2018

SpaceX Dragon commercial resupply, arrival at ISS. Image Credit: NASA

A Dragon spacecraft scheduled to launch into orbit no earlier than April 2, carries the 14th SpaceX commercial resupply mission to the International Space Station for NASA. Lifted into orbit atop a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, Dragon takes supplies, equipment and scientific research to crew members living and working aboard the station.

This flight delivers scientific investigations looking at severe thunderstorms on Earth, the effects of microgravity on production of high-performance products from metal powders, and growing food in space. Dragon also carries cargo for research in the National Laboratory, operated by the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), including testing the effects of the harsh space environment on materials, coatings and components; identifying potential pathogens aboard the station; and investigating an antibiotic-releasing wound patch.

Image above: From left, Matthew Romeyn and Dr. Ye Zhang, project scientists, place Arabidopsis seeds in Veggie Passive Orbital Nutrient Delivery System (PONDS) units inside a laboratory at the Space Station Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Image Credits: NASA/Daniel Casper.

Highlights of research to be delivered to the station include:

Capturing Sprites and Elves

The Atmosphere-Space Interactions Monitor (ASIM) surveys severe thunderstorms in Earth’s atmosphere and upper-atmospheric lightning, or transient luminous events. These include sprites, flashes caused by electrical break-down in the mesosphere; the blue jet, a discharge from cloud tops upward into the stratosphere; and ELVES, concentric rings of emissions caused by an electromagnetic pulse in the ionosphere.

Image above: A view of ASIM being prepared for launch. Image Credit: NASA.

ASIM advances understanding of the effect of thunderstorms on Earth’s atmosphere, helping to improve atmospheric models and meteorological and climatological predictions. It also contributes to understanding the effect of dust storms, urban pollutants, forest fires, and volcanoes on cloud formation, as well as electrification and intensification of hurricanes and their relation to eye-wall lightning activity.

Metal Powder Fabrication

The NASA Sample Cartridge Assembly (MSL SCA-GEDS-German) experiment determines underlying scientific principles for a fabrication process known as liquid phase sintering, in microgravity and Earth-gravity conditions.

On earth, liquid phase sintering works like building a sandcastle with just-wet-enough sand; heating a powder forms interparticle bonds and formation of a liquid phase accelerates this solidification, creating a rigid structure. But in microgravity, settling of powder grains does not occur and larger pores form, creating more porous and distorted samples than Earth-based sintering. Sintering has diverse applications on Earth, including in metal cutting tools, automotive engine connecting rods, and self-lubricating bearings. It has potential as a way to perform in-space fabrication and repair, such as building structures on the moon or creating replacement parts during extraterrestrial exploration.

Testing Materials in Space

The Materials ISS Experiment Flight Facility (MISSE-FF) provides a unique platform for testing how materials, coatings, and components react in the harsh environment of space, which includes exposure to ultraviolet and ionizing radiation, atomic oxygen, charged particles, thermal cycles, electromagnetic radiation, and micro-meteoroids.

Image above: The Materials ISS Experiment Flight Facility (MISSE-FF) with MISSE Sample Carriers (MSCs) in the fully open position exposing samples/experiments to the harsh environment of space in low-Earth Orbit (LEO). Image courtesy of Alpha Space. Image Credit: Alpha Space.

A continuation of previous MISSE payloads, MISSE-FF’s new design eliminates the need for Extravehicular Activities (EVA) for these investigations. New technology includes power and data collection options and the ability to take pictures of each sample on a monthly basis, or more often if required, allowing scientists to monitor sample status throughout flight. The testing benefits a variety of industries, including automotive, aeronautics, energy, space, and transportation.

Patching up Wounds

NanoRacks Module 74 Wound Healing (Wound Healing) tests a patch containing an antimicrobial hydrogel that promotes healing of a wound while acting as a scaffold for regenerating tissue. Reduced fluid motion in microgravity allows more precise analysis of the hydrogel behavior and controlled release of the antibiotic from the patch.

This novel patch could serve as a non-surgical treatment for military combat wounds and reduce sepsis, or systemic inflammation, usually caused by contamination of an open wound. Currently, no wound dressing can sustain release of antibiotics or other agents directly to the wound site while simultaneously maintaining the structural integrity necessary for successful wound healing.

Drug Development in Space

Comparative Real-time Metabolic Activity Tracking for Improved Therapeutic Assessment Screening Panels (Metabolic Tracking) examines effects of microgravity on the metabolic impact of five different therapeutic compounds, evaluating the use of autobioluminescent human tissue culture for continuous tracking of metabolic activity without destroying the sample. This investigation determines the feasibility of developing improved pharmaceuticals in microgravity using a new method to test the metabolic impacts of drug compounds. This could lead to more effective, less expensive drugs.
These investigations are just a sample of the new science to be conducted aboard the orbiting microgravity laboratory. Follow @ISS_Research for more information about science happening on station.

Related links:

Commercial Resupply:

Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS):

Atmosphere-Space Interactions Monitor (ASIM):

NASA Sample Cartridge Assembly (MSL SCA-GEDS-German):

Materials ISS Experiment Flight Facility (MISSE-FF):

NanoRacks Module 74 Wound Healing (Wound Healing):

Metabolic Tracking:

Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

Images (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Michael Johnson/JSC/International Space Station Program Science Office/Melissa Gaskill.

Best regards,

Rose-Colored Jupiter

NASA - JUNO Mission logo.

March 16, 2018

This image captures a close-up view of a storm with bright cloud tops in the northern hemisphere of Jupiter.                                                            

NASA’s Juno spacecraft took this color-enhanced image on Feb. 7 at 5:38 a.m. PST (8:38 a.m. EST) during its 11th close flyby of the gas giant planet. At the time, the spacecraft was 7,578 miles (12,195 kilometers) from the tops of Jupiter’s clouds at 49.2 degrees north latitude.

Citizen scientist Matt Brealey processed the image using data from the JunoCam imager. Citizen scientist Gustavo B C then adjusted colors and embossed Matt Brealey's processing of this storm.

JunoCam's raw images are available for the public to peruse and process into image products at:        

More information about Juno is at: and

Image, Text, Credits: NASA/Tony Greicius/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Matt Brealey/Gustavo B C.


jeudi 15 mars 2018

While launch awaits, the science does not

ISS - Expedition 55 Mission patch.

March 15, 2018

Image above: At the Cosmonaut Hotel crew quarters in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, the Expedition 55 prime and backup crew members pose for pictures by a Soyuz model as part of their pre-launch activities. From left to right are prime crew members Ricky Arnold of NASA, Oleg Artemyev of Roscosmos and Drew Feustel of NASA, and backup crew members Alexey Ovchinin of Roscosmos and Nick Hague of NASA. Image Credit: Roscosmos.

As the International Space Station orbits Earth with three occupants already onboard, on the ground below in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, three more crewmates are engaged in activities leading up to a March 21 liftoff on a Soyuz MS-08 spacecraft to join them. (You can watch this launch live on NASA TV, with coverage beginning at 12:45 p.m. EDT.)

Today the future Expedition 55-56 crew members, NASA Flight Engineers Ricky Arnold and Drew Feustel, along with Soyuz Commander Oleg Artemyev, engaged with journalists for media day, sharing how they will continue work on hundreds of experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science aboard humanity’s only permanently occupied microgravity laboratory. This crew will build on the trend of long-term increase in U.S. crew size from three to four, allowing NASA to maximize time dedicated time for investigative research.

Image above: Flying over South Atlantic Ocean seen by EarthCam on ISS, speed: 27'568 Km/h, altitude: 421,96 Km, image captured by Roland Berga (on Earth in Switzerland) from International Space Station (ISS) using ISS-HD Live application with EarthCam's from ISS on March 15, 2018 at 18:10 UTC.

Meanwhile, off the Earth, the Expedition 55 crew reconfigured the JEM Airlock in support of an upcoming experiment: Materials on ISS Experiment – Flight Facility (MISSE-FF) payload operations. This study exposes sample plates containing a variety of surface materials to the harsh environs of space outside the station for varying durations. Data collected will inform satellite designers how different materials can degrade over time—a topic of great importance when it comes to designing and building spacecraft and structures to withstand a journey through the cosmos.

On Friday, Flight Engineer Scott Tingle of NASA will wrap up the week talking to science teachers—and lots of them—via an educational in-flight event with the National Science Teachers Association National Conference. During this downlink highlighting the Year of Education on Station, teachers from as far as the United Arab Emirates will pose their own burning questions for the astronaut and learn more about how to living—and working—is accomplished in microgravity.

Related links:

Materials on ISS Experiment – Flight Facility (MISSE-FF):


Expedition 55:

Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

Images (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Mark Garcia/ Aerospace/Roland Berga.

Best regards,

NASA Powers on New Instrument Staring at the Sun

ISS - International Space Station logo.

March 15, 2018

NASA has powered on its latest space payload to continue long-term measurements of the Sun's incoming energy. Total and Spectral solar Irradiance Sensor (TSIS-1), installed on the International Space Station, became fully operational with all instruments collecting science data as of this March.

"TSIS-1 extends a long data record that helps us understand the Sun’s influence on Earth’s radiation budget, ozone layer, atmospheric circulation, and ecosystems, and the effects that solar variability has on the Earth system and climate change," said Dong Wu, TSIS-1 project scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

Animation above: Shown here: TSIS-1 getting extracted from the trunk of the SpaceX Dragon capsule. Animation Credits: NASA Goddard.

The instrument was launched from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on Dec. 15, 2017. After a two-week pause, TSIS-1 was extracted from the trunk of the SpaceX Dragon capsule and integrated onto its permanent home on the space station.

For over two months, the operations team at the University of Colorado Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) in Boulder, Colorado have been testing TSIS-1. First, the team tested the all-important pointing platform that directs the solar instruments at the Sun.

Next came testing of the solar instruments. TSIS-1 studies the total amount of light energy emitted by the Sun using the Total Irradiance Monitor, one of two sensors onboard. This sensor's data will give us a better understanding of Earth’s primary energy supply and provide information to help improve models simulating the planet’s climate. The monitor first started collecting science data – called "first light"— on January 11th after its doors were opened to fully view the Sun. The sensor extends a 40-year measurement of the Sun's total energy to Earth.

Image above: Follow NASA's TSIS-1 from its launch to its installation aboard the International Space Station to its collection of science data. Image Credits: NASA Goddard.

The second onboard sensor, called the Spectral Irradiance Monitor, measures how the Sun’s energy is distributed over the ultraviolet, visible and infrared regions of light. Measuring the distribution of the Sun's energy is important because each wavelength of light interacts with Earth's atmosphere differently.

For instance, spectral irradiance measurements of the Sun's ultraviolet radiation are critical to understanding the ozone layer — Earth's natural sunscreen that protects life from harmful radiation. The sensor experienced first light on March 4th when full science data collection began. TSIS-1's Spectral Irradiance Monitor extends a 15-year record of spectral irradiance measurements. 

"All systems are operating within their expected ranges," said Peter Pilewskie, TSIS-1 lead scientist LASP. "A lot of hard work remains for the team to interpret and validate the TSIS-1 data."

Animation above: Shown here: the pointing platform directs the solar instruments at the Sun. Perched on the space station, the instrument operates like a sunflower and follows the Sun from sunrise to its sunset, which occurs every 90 minutes. At sunset, TSIS-1 rewinds, recalibrates and waits for the next sunrise Animation Credits: University of Colorado Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP).

NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center has overall responsibility for the development and operation of TSIS-1 on the International Space Station for the next 5 years.  LASP under contract with NASA, is responsible for providing the solar irradiance measurements and providing them to the Goddard Earth Science Data and Information Services Center, the archive and distribution center for TSIS-1 data, so they are available to the scientific community.

For more information on the TSIS-1 mission, visit

Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

Image (mentioned), Animations (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Sara Blumberg/Goddard Space Flight Center, by Kasha Patel.


NASA Dawn Reveals Recent Changes in Ceres' Surface

NASA - Dawn Mission patch.

March 15, 2018

Observations of Ceres have detected recent variations in its surface, revealing that the only dwarf planet in the inner solar system is a dynamic body that continues to evolve and change.

Juling Crater

Image above: This view from NASA's Dawn mission shows where ice has been detected in the northern wall of Ceres' Juling Crater, which is in almost permanent shadow. Image Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA/ASI/INAF.

NASA's Dawn mission has found recently exposed deposits that give us new information on the materials in the crust and how they are changing, according to two papers published March 14 in Science Advances that document the new findings.

Juling Crater's Floor

Image above: This view from NASA's Dawn mission shows the floor of Ceres' Juling Crater. The crater floor shows evidence of the flow of ice and rock, similar to rock glaciers in Earth's polar regions. Image Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA/ASI/INAF.

Observations obtained by the visible and infrared mapping spectrometer (VIR) on the Dawn spacecraft previously found water ice in a dozen sites on Ceres. The new study revealed the abundance of ice on the northern wall of Juling Crater, a crater 12 miles (20 kilometers) in diameter. The new observations, conducted from April through October 2016, show an increase in the amount of ice on the crater wall.

Ahuna Mons

Image above: This view from NASA's Dawn mission shows Ceres' tallest mountain, Ahuna Mons, 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) high and 11 miles (17 kilometers) wide. This is one of the few sites on Ceres at which a significant amount of sodium carbonate has been found, shown in green and red colors in the lower right image. Images Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA/ASI/INAF.

"This is the first direct detection of change on the surface of Ceres," said Andrea Raponi of the Institute of Astrophysics and Planetary Science in Rome.

Raponi led the new study, which found changes in the amount of ice exposed on the dwarf planet. "The combination of Ceres moving closer to the sun in its orbit, along with seasonal change, triggers the release of water vapor from the subsurface, which then condenses on the cold crater wall. This causes an increase in the amount of exposed ice. The warming might also cause landslides on the crater walls that expose fresh ice patches."

By combining chemical, geological and geophysical observations, the Dawn mission is producing a comprehensive view of Ceres. Previous data had shown Ceres has a crust about 25 miles (40 kilometers) thick and rich in water, salts and, possibly, organics.

In a second study, VIR observations also reveal new information about the variability of Ceres' crust, and suggest recent surface changes, in the form of newly exposed material.

Dawn previously found carbonates, common on the planet's surface, that formed within an ocean. Sodium carbonates, for example, dominate the bright regions in Occator Crater, and material of similar composition has been found at Oxo Crater and Ahuna Mons.

Dawn spacecraft. Image Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

This study, led by Giacomo Carrozzo of the Institute of Astrophysics and Planetary Science, identified 12 sites rich in sodium carbonates and examined in detail several areas of a few square miles that show where water is present as part of the carbonate structure. The study marks the first time hydrated carbonate has been found on the surface of Ceres, or any other planetary body besides Earth, giving us new information about the dwarf planet's chemical evolution.

Water ice is not stable on the surface of Ceres over long time periods unless it is hidden in shadows, as in the case of Juling. Similarly, hydrated carbonate would dehydrate, although over a longer timescale of a few million years.

"This implies that the sites rich in hydrated carbonates have been exposed due to recent activity on the surface," Carrozzo said.

The great diversity of material, ice and carbonates, exposed via impacts, landslides and cryovolcanism suggests Ceres' crust is not uniform in composition. These heterogeneities were either produced during the freezing of Ceres' original ocean - which formed the crust - or later on as a consequence of large impacts or cryovolcanic intrusions.

"Changes in the abundance of water ice on a short timescale, as well as the presence of hydrated sodium carbonates, are further evidence that Ceres is a geologically and chemically active body," said Cristina De Sanctis, VIR team leader at the Institute of Astrophysics and Planetary Science.

The Dawn mission is managed by JPL for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Dawn is a project of the directorate's Discovery Program, managed by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. JPL is responsible for overall Dawn mission science. Orbital ATK Inc., in Dulles, Virginia, designed and built the spacecraft. The German Aerospace Center, Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Italian Space Agency and Italian National Astrophysical Institute are international partners on the mission team.

For a complete list of mission participants, visit:

More information about Dawn is available at the following sites:

Images (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/JPL/Gretchen McCartney.


mercredi 14 mars 2018

Station Orbiting Higher Ahead of New Crew and Cargo Missions

ISS - Expedition 55 Mission patch.

March 14, 2018

Image above: At the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, NASA astronauts Drew Feustel and Ricky Arnold, and cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, are set to launch in the Soyuz MS-08 spacecraft at 1:44 p.m. EDT (11:44 p.m. Kazakhstan time) March 21. Image Credit: NASA.

One week from today three individuals will blast off on a two-day trip to the International Space Station. They will join the three Expedition 55 crew members already in space who continue to research the effects of living in space while maintaining the orbital laboratory.

The Soyuz spacecraft that will carry one cosmonaut and two astronauts to their new home in space was encapsulated into its rocket today ahead of its March 21 launch. Soyuz Commander Oleg Artemyev will fly the Soyuz MS-08 spacecraft ferrying him and NASA astronauts Ricky Arnold and Drew Feustel to the station’s Poisk module on March 23.

Image above: In the Integration Facility at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, the Soyuz MS-08 spacecraft is rotated to a horizontal position March 14 to be encapsulated in the upper stage of a Soyuz booster rocket. Image Credit: Roscosmos.

Waiting for the trio are Expedition 55 Commander Anton Shkaplerov and Flight Engineers Scott Tingle and Norishige Kanai. Today, the orbiting crewmates watered plants for a space crop study and scanned their eyes with an ultrasound device for ongoing health checks. They are also getting gear ready for the next spacewalk to conduct maintenance on the orbital lab.

The space station is orbiting a little higher today after a docked Russian cargo craft fired its engines for 1 minute and 48 seconds. The burn increased the lab’s altitude enabling future spacecraft operations including the undocking of the Expedition 54-55 trio in June and the docking of a new Russian space freighter in July.

Related links:

NASA Television:

Space crop study:

Expedition 55:

Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

Images (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Mark Garcia.

Best regards,

A Crab Walks Through Time

NASA - Chandra X-ray Observatory patch.

March 14, 2018

Next year marks the 20th anniversary of NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory launch into space. The Crab Nebula was one of the first objects that Chandra examined with its sharp X-ray vision, and it has been a frequent target of the telescope ever since.

There are many reasons that the Crab Nebula is such a well-studied object. For example, it is one of a handful of cases where there is strong historical evidence for when the star exploded. Having this definitive timeline helps astronomers understand the details of the explosion and its aftermath.

In the case of the Crab, observers in several countries reported the appearance of a “new star” in 1054 A.D. in the direction of the constellation Taurus. Much has been learned about the Crab in the centuries since then. Today, astronomers know that the Crab Nebula is powered by a quickly spinning, highly magnetized neutron star called a pulsar, which was formed when a massive star ran out of its nuclear fuel and collapsed. The combination of rapid rotation and a strong magnetic field in the Crab generates an intense electromagnetic field that creates jets of matter and anti-matter moving away from both the north and south poles of the pulsar, and an intense wind flowing out in the equatorial direction.

The latest image of the Crab is a composite with X-rays from Chandra (blue and white), NASA's Hubble Space Telescope (purple) and NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope (pink). The extent of the X-rays in this image is smaller than the others because extremely energetic electrons emitting X-rays radiate away their energy more quickly than the lower-energy electrons emitting optical and infrared light.

Chandra X-ray Observatory

This new composite adds to a scientific legacy, spanning nearly two decades, between Chandra and the Crab Nebula. Here is a sample of the many insights astronomers have gained about this famous object using Chandra and other telescopes.

Within weeks of being deployed into orbit from the Space Shuttle Columbia during the summer of 1999, Chandra observed the Crab Nebula. The Chandra data revealed features in the Crab never seen before, including a bright ring of high-energy particles around the heart of the nebula.

The dynamic nature of the Crab Nebula was vividly revealed in 2002 when scientists produced videos based on coordinated Chandra and Hubble observations made over several months. The bright ring seen earlier consists of about two dozen knots that form, brighten and fade, jitter around, and occasionally undergo outbursts that give rise to expanding clouds of particles, but remain in roughly the same location.

These knots are caused by a shock wave, similar to a sonic boom, where fast-moving particles from the pulsar are slamming into surrounding gas. Bright wisps originating in this ring are moving outward at half the speed of light to form a second expanding ring further away from the pulsar.

In 2003, the Spitzer Space Telescope was launched and the space-based infrared telescope joined Hubble, Chandra, and the Compton Gamma-ray Observatory and completed the development of NASA’s “Great Observatory” program. A few years later, the first composite of the Crab with data from Chandra (light blue), Hubble (green and dark blue), and Spitzer (red) was released.

As Chandra continued to take observations of the Crab, the data provided a clearer picture of what was happening in this dynamic object. In 2008, scientists first reported a view of the faint boundary of the Crab Nebula's pulsar wind nebula (i.e., a cocoon of high-energy particles surrounding the pulsar).

The data showed structures that astronomers referred to as “fingers”, “loops”, and “bays”. These features indicated that the magnetic field of the nebula and filaments of cooler matter are controlling the motion of the electrons and positrons. The particles can move rapidly along the magnetic field and travel several light years before radiating away their energy. In contrast, they move much more slowly perpendicular to the magnetic field, and travel only a short distance before losing their energy.

Time-lapse movies of Chandra data of the Crab have been powerful tools in showing the dramatic variations in the X-ray emission near the pulsar. In 2011, Chandra observations, obtained between September 2010 and April 2011, were obtained to pinpoint the location of remarkable gamma-ray flares observed by NASA's Fermi Gamma Ray Observatory and Italy's AGILE Satellite. The gamma-ray observatories were not able to locate the source of the flares within the nebula, but astronomers hoped that Chandra, with its high-resolution images, would.

Two Chandra observations were made when strong gamma-ray flares occurred, but no clear evidence was seen for correlated flares in the Chandra images. Despite this lack of correlation, the Chandra observations helped scientists to home in on an explanation of the gamma-ray flares. Though other possibilities remain, Chandra provided evidence that accelerated particles produced the gamma-ray flares.

To celebrate the 15th anniversary of Chandra’s launch, several new images of supernova remnants were released, including the Crab Nebula. This was a “three color” image of the Crab Nebula, where the X-ray data were split into three different energy bands. In this image, the lowest-energy X-rays Chandra detects are red, the medium range are green, and the highest-energy X-rays from the Crab are colored blue. Note that the extent of the higher energy X-rays in the image is smaller than the others. This is because the most energetic electrons responsible for the highest energy X-rays radiate away their energy more quickly than the lower-energy electrons.

Building on the multiwavelength images of the Crab from the past, a highly detailed view of the Crab Nebula was created in 2017 using data from telescopes spanning nearly the entire breadth of the electromagnetic spectrum. Radio waves from the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (red), Hubble optical data (green), infrared data from Spitzer (yellow), and X-ray data from XMM-Newton (blue) and Chandra (purple) produced a spectacular new image of the Crab.

NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, manages the Chandra program for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, Massachusetts, controls Chandra's science and flight operations.

Read More from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory:

For more Chandra images, multimedia and related materials, visit:

Image, Animation, Text, Credits: X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO; Optical: NASA/STScI; Infrared: NASA-JPL-Caltech/NASA/Lee Mohon.


NASA’s Kepler Spacecraft Nearing the End as Fuel Runs Low

NASA - Kepler Space Telescope patch.

March 14, 2018

Trailing Earth’s orbit at 94 million miles away, the Kepler space telescope has survived many potential knock-outs during its nine years in flight, from mechanical failures to being blasted by cosmic rays. At this rate, the hardy spacecraft may reach its finish line in a manner we will consider a wonderful success. With nary a gas station to be found in deep space, the spacecraft is going to run out of fuel. We expect to reach that moment within several months.

In 2013, Kepler’s primary mission ended when a second reaction wheel broke, rendering it unable to hold its gaze steady at the original field of view. The spacecraft was given a new lease on life by using the pressure of sunlight to maintain its pointing, like a kayak steering into the current. Reborn as “K2,” this extended mission requires the spacecraft to shift its field of view to new portions of the sky roughly every three months in what we refer to as a “campaign.” Initially, the Kepler team estimated that the K2 mission could conduct 10 campaigns with the remaining fuel. It turns out we were overly conservative. The mission has already completed 16 campaigns, and this month entered its 17th.

Our current estimates are that Kepler’s tank will run dry within several months – but we’ve been surprised by its performance before! So, while we anticipate flight operations ending soon, we are prepared to continue as long as the fuel allows.

The Kepler team is planning to collect as much science data as possible in its remaining time and beam it back to Earth before the loss of the fuel-powered thrusters means that we can't aim the spacecraft for data transfer. We even have plans to take some final calibration data with the last bit of fuel, if the opportunity presents itself.

Artist's view of Kepler space telescope. Image Credit: NASA

Without a gas gauge, we have been monitoring the spacecraft for warning signs of low fuel— such as a drop in the fuel tank’s pressure and changes in the performance of the thrusters. But in the end, we only have an estimate – not precise knowledge. Taking these measurements helps us decide how long we can comfortably keep collecting scientific data. 

It’s like trying to decide when to gas up your car.  Do you stop now?  Or try to make it to the next station?  In our case, there is no next station, so we want to stop collecting data while we’re still comfortable that we can aim the spacecraft to bring it back to Earth. We will continue to provide updates on the science and the spacecraft, which has yet to show warning signs.

Many NASA missions must set a course for a clear-cut ending and reserve enough fuel for one last maneuver. For example, Earth-orbiting spacecraft must avoid collisions with other satellites or an uncontrolled fall to the ground, while planetary missions like Cassini have to reserve fuel to avoid contamination of a potentially life-bearing environment. In Cassini’s case, NASA sent the spacecraft into Saturn rather than risk it falling into one of the planet’s moons. Deep space missions like Kepler are nowhere near Earth or sensitive environments, which means we can afford to squeeze every last drop of data from the spacecraft — and ultimately that means bringing home even more data for science. Who knows what surprises about our universe will be in that final downlink to Earth?

While Kepler continues to bring us exciting data as it draws close the finish line, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) will be launching on April 16 from Cape Canaveral, Florida. TESS will search nearly the entire sky for planets outside our solar system, focusing on the brightest stars less than 300 light-years away, and adding to Kepler’s treasure trove of planet discoveries.

Written by Charlie Sobeck, system engineer for the Kepler space telescope mission.

NASA's Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley manages the Kepler and K2 missions for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, managed Kepler mission development. Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corporation operates the flight system with support from the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

For more information, read the FAQs about the final phase of Kepler:

Kepler and K2:

Image (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Rick Chen/Ames Research Center/Alison Hawkes.


Astrophysicist Stephen Hawking passed away

Rest In Peace.

March 14, 2018

British scientist Stephen Hawking is dead, announces a statement from his family.

British theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking died at the age of 76, the British Press Association reported on Tuesday, citing a spokesman for the family. Born in Oxford in the United Kingdom, he died at home in Cambridge.

Image above: Hawking taking a zero-gravity flight in a reduced-gravity aircraft in 2007. Image Credits: Jim Campbell / Aero-News Network.

"We are deeply saddened by the death of our beloved father today." "He was a great scientist and an extraordinary man whose work will live for many years," wrote his children Lucy, Robert and Tim in a text also published by the British agency Press Association.

Nailed in a chair and speaking through a computer, Stephen Hawking devoted his life to unlocking the secrets of the universe and popularizing astrophysics, to the point of becoming a star.

Push the limits

"I'm sure my disability has something to do with my celebrity. People are fascinated by the contrast between my very limited physical abilities and the extremely wide nature of the universe I'm studying, "said the contemporary scientist, certainly the most famous in the world.

Stephen Hawking was born in Oxford on January 8, 1942, 300 years to the day after Galileo's death.

His father, a biologist, wants him to follow his steps by studying medicine in Oxford. But young Stephen has already taken a passion for mathematics. This subject is not taught in the prestigious university, he opts for physics. After three years, he left for Cambridge to pursue research in astronomy.

Charcot's disease

Shortly after his 21st birthday, he learns that he suffers from paralytic degenerative disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or Charcot's disease.

Doctors give him only two years to live. Not even knowing if he will be able to complete his doctoral thesis, he is plunged into a deep depression, from which he only comes out thanks to his meeting with a linguistics student, Jane Wilde, whom he married in 1965.

The couple, who divorced 30 years later, will have three children. Stephen Hawking will marry Elaine Mason for the second time, after eleven years in 2006.

His body declines inexorably. In 1974, he was unable to feed himself or get out of bed on his own. In 1985, he definitively lost the use of speech after undergoing tracheotomy following pneumonia.

"Completely understand the universe"

But his mind is intact. And his simple goal: "to completely understand the universe, why he is as he is and why he exists".

In the 1970s, he developed the idea that black holes do not just absorb any matter and light passing near them but also emit radiation, the "Hawking radiation".

In doing so, he is the first to reach out to the grail of physicists: to begin to reconcile the two great theories that explain the functioning of the universe and are apparently incompatible, namely the general relativity of Einstein for the infinitely great and quantum mechanics for the infinitely small.

In the opinion of the scientists, this theory would have earned Stephen Hawking the Nobel Prize if it could have been experimentally demonstrated.

In the footsteps of Newton

At 32, he became the youngest member of the Royal Society, the British equivalent of the Academy of Sciences.

In 1980, he was awarded the Lucasian Chair in Mathematics at Cambridge University, a post he held before him by Isaac Newton. He will leave in 2009, struck by the age limit.

While deepening his work on the origins of the universe, the theorist published in 1988 "A brief history of time," to explain to the general public the great principles of cosmology, the Big Bang to string theory.

Never a book of popular science will be so successful. Since its publication, more than nine million copies have been sold.

Unparalleled communication

Stephen Hawking then becomes the popular incarnation of the scientist, multiplying the interventions to promote the research and, sometimes, to worry about its possible excesses.

Formidable communicator, able to perform a weightless flight despite his disability, he lends himself to the game with a certain pleasure and a great sense of humor. His Facebook page that he feeds himself with messages signed "SH" has more than 4 million "friends".

He plays his own part in series like "Star Trek", "The Big Bang Theory" and "The Simpsons", signs children's books with his daughter Lucy, "sings" with his synthetic voice alongside U2, Pink Floyd and even Monthy Python.

A year ago, he appeared at a conference

Stephen Hawking books:

Popular books

    A Brief History of Time (1988)
    Black Holes and Baby Universes and Other Essays (1993)
    The Universe in a Nutshell (2001)
    On the Shoulders of Giants (2002)
    God Created the Integers: The Mathematical Breakthroughs That Changed History (2005)
    The Dreams That Stuff Is Made of: The Most Astounding Papers of Quantum Physics and How They Shook the Scientific World (2011)
    My Brief History (2013)


    The Nature of Space and Time (with Roger Penrose) (1996)
    The Large, the Small and the Human Mind (with Roger Penrose, Abner Shimony and Nancy Cartwright) (1997)
    The Future of Spacetime (with Kip Thorne, Igor Novikov, Timothy Ferris and introduction by Alan Lightman, Richard H. Price) (2002)
    A Briefer History of Time (with Leonard Mlodinow) (2005)
    The Grand Design (with Leonard Mlodinow) (2010)


- Black Holes & Time Warps: Einstein's Outrageous Legacy (Kip Thorne, and introduction by Frederick Seitz) (1994)

Children's fiction

Co-written with his daughter Lucy.

    George's Secret Key to the Universe (2007)
    George's Cosmic Treasure Hunt (2009)
    George and the Big Bang (2011)
    George and the Unbreakable Code (2014)

Films and series

    A Brief History of Time (1992)
    Stephen Hawking's Universe (1997)
    Hawking – BBC television film (2004) starring Benedict Cumberbatch
    Horizon: The Hawking Paradox (2005)
    Masters of Science Fiction (2007)
    Stephen Hawking and the Theory of Everything (2007)
    Stephen Hawking: Master of the Universe (2008)
    Into the Universe with Stephen Hawking (2010)
    Brave New World with Stephen Hawking (2011)
    Stephen Hawking's Grand Design (2012)
    The Big Bang Theory (2012, 2014 and 2017)
    Stephen Hawking: A Brief History of Mine (2013)
    The Theory of Everything – Feature film (2014) starring Eddie Redmayne
    Genius by Stephen Hawking (2016)

Selected academic works

- Hawking, S. W.; Penrose, R. (1970). "The Singularities of Gravitational Collapse and Cosmology". Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences. 314 (1519): 529–548. Bibcode:1970RSPSA.314..529H. doi:10.1098/rspa.1970.0021.

- Hawking, S. (1971). "Gravitational Radiation from Colliding Black Holes". Physical Review Letters. 26 (21): 1344–1346. Bibcode:1971PhRvL..26.1344H. doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.26.1344.

- Hawking, S.W. (1972). "Black holes in general relativity". Communications in Mathematical Physics. 25 (2): 152–166. Bibcode:1972CMaPh..25..152H. doi:10.1007/BF01877517.

- Hawking, S. W. (1974). "Black hole explosions?". Nature. 248 (5443): 30–31. Bibcode:1974Natur.248...30H. doi:10.1038/248030a0.

- Hawking, S.W. (1982). "The development of irregularities in a single bubble inflationary universe". Physics Letters B. 115 (4): 295–297. Bibcode:1982PhLB..115..295H. doi:10.1016/0370-2693(82)90373-2.

- Hartle, J.; Hawking, S. (1983). "Wave function of the Universe". Physical Review D. 28 (12): 2960–2975. Bibcode:1983PhRvD..28.2960H. doi:10.1103/PhysRevD.28.2960.

- Hawking, S. (2005). "Information loss in black holes". Physical Review D. 72 (8): 084013. arXiv:hep-th/0507171 Freely accessible. Bibcode:2005PhRvD..72h4013H. doi:10.1103/PhysRevD.72.084013.

Stephen Hawking Wikipedia page:

Image (mentioned), Text, Credits: ATS/AFP/Wikipedia/ Aerospace/Roland Berga.

R. I. P.,

mardi 13 mars 2018

Spacewalk and cargo preps punctuated with media outreach

ISS - Expedition 55 Mission patch.

March 13, 2018

International Space Station (ISS). Animation Credit: NASA

It’s a new day in space aboard the International Space Station, and three Expedition 55 crew members are prepping for an upcoming spacewalk and cargo-transfer activities while also sharing the wonders of our orbiting laboratory.

March 29 is the target date of the next U.S. spacewalk. To begin preparations for the excursion, the crew swapped out Extravehicular Mobility Units, or EMUs, and began resizing the suits. Also on the task list: packing up suit parts intended for return to Earth with SpaceX CRS-14.

In addition, the crewmates spent time reconfiguring the European Physiology Module rack for the future installation of ESA’s ICE Cubes Facility (ICF). The ICF will provide commercial entities simplified, low-cost access to the space station with individual experiment cubes—small investigations that could make large impacts within the scientific community.

Image above: From left, Flight Engineers Norishige Kanai and Scott Tingle take part in an in-flight media event aboard the orbiting laboratory. Image Credit: NASA TV.

NASA astronaut Scott Tingle and Norishige Kanai from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency shared how space station benefits humankind off the Earth, for the Earth, during two in-flight Public Affairs events live on NASA TV. The first interview was with KYW-TV in Philadelphia, while the second was with NPR’s 1A Broadcast on WAMU Radio in Washington, D.C.

Later, a reboost is planned using the Progress 69P spacecraft to lift station to the correct altitude for a Soyuz 53S undock and landing early this summer.

Related links:

Expedition 55:

Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

Animation (mentioned), Image (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Mark Garcia.

Best regards,

Jupiter's Great Red Spot Getting Taller as it Shrinks, NASA Team Finds

NASA Hubble Space Telescope patch.

March 13, 2018

Though once big enough to swallow three Earths with room to spare, Jupiter’s Great Red Spot has been shrinking for a century and a half. Nobody is sure how long the storm will continue to contract or whether it will disappear altogether.

A new study suggests that it hasn’t all been downhill, though. The storm seems to have increased in area at least once along the way, and it’s growing taller as it gets smaller.

“Storms are dynamic, and that’s what we see with the Great Red Spot. It’s constantly changing in size and shape, and its winds shift, as well,” said Amy Simon, an expert in planetary atmospheres at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and lead author of the new paper, published in the Astronomical Journal.

Jupiter’s Great Red Spot Shrinks and Grows

Video above: Scientists have noticed that Jupiter's Great Red Spot has been getting smaller over time. Now, there's evidence the storm is actually growing taller as it shrinks. Video Credits: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

Observations of Jupiter date back centuries, but the first confirmed sighting of the Great Red Spot was in 1831. (Researchers aren’t certain whether earlier observers who saw a red spot on Jupiter were looking at the same storm.)

Keen observers have long been able to measure the size and drift of the Great Red Spot by fitting their telescopes with an eyepiece scored with crosshairs. A continuous record of at least one observation of this kind per year dates back to 1878.

Simon and her colleagues drew on this rich archive of historical observations and combined them with data from NASA spacecraft, starting with the two Voyager missions in 1979. In particular, the group relied on a series of annual observations of Jupiter that team members have been conducting with NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope as part of the Outer Planets Atmospheres Legacy, or OPAL, project. The OPAL team scientists are based at Goddard, the University of California at Berkeley, and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California,

The team traced the evolution of the Great Red Spot, analyzing its size, shape, color  and drift rate. They also looked at the storm’s internal wind speeds, when that information was available from spacecraft.

The new findings indicate that the Great Red Spot recently started to drift westward faster than before. The storm always stays at the same latitude, held there by jet streams to the north and south, but it circles the globe in the opposite direction relative to the planet’s eastward rotation. Historically, it’s been assumed that this drift is more or less constant, but in recent observations, the team found the spot is zooming along much faster.

Image above: This extract from a global map of Jupiter was made from observations performed with NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. Image Credits: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

The study confirms that the storm has been decreasing in length overall since 1878 and is big enough to accommodate just over one Earth at this point. But the historical record indicates the area of the spot grew temporarily in the 1920s.

“There is evidence in the archived observations that the Great Red Spot has grown and shrunk over time,” said co-author Reta Beebe, an emeritus professor at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces. “However, the storm is quite small now, and it’s been a long time since it last grew.”

Because the storm has been contracting, the researchers expected to find the already-powerful internal winds becoming even stronger, like an ice skater who spins faster as she pulls in her arms.

Instead of spinning faster, the storm appears to be forced to stretch up. It’s almost like clay being shaped on a potter’s wheel. As the wheel spins, an artist can transform a short, round lump into a tall, thin vase by pushing inward with his hands. The smaller he makes the base, the taller the vessel will grow.

In the case of the Great Red Spot, the change in height is small relative to the area that the storm covers, but it’s still noticeable.

The Great Red Spot’s color has been deepening, too, becoming intensely orange since 2014. Researchers aren’t sure why that’s happening, but it’s possible that the chemicals which color the storm are being carried higher into the atmosphere as the spot stretches up. At higher altitudes, the chemicals would be subjected to more UV radiation and would take on a deeper color.

In some ways, the mystery of the Great Red Spot only seems to deepen as the iconic storm contracts. Researchers don’t know whether the spot will shrink a bit more and then stabilize, or break apart completely.

“If the trends we see in the Great Red Spot continue, the next five to 10 years could be very interesting from a dynamical point of view,” said Goddard co-author Rick Cosentino. “We could see rapid changes in the storm’s physical appearance and behavior, and maybe the red spot will end up being not so great after all.”

For more information about Hubble, visit:

Image (mentioned), Video (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Karl Hille/Goddard Space Flight Center, by Elizabeth Zubritsky.


Full house for EDRS

EDRS - European Data Relay System logo.

13 March 2018

The EDRS–SpaceDataHighway has now begun regularly relaying Earth images from Sentinel-2A, which marks the last of four Copernicus satellites in orbit being brought under the EDRS service.

After several months of rigorous testing, the system has added the last ‘colour vision’ Sentinel to the list of Sentinels it serves, bringing the satellite’s vibrant images to Earth faster than ever and completing the full set of four.

Sentinel-2 transmitting data by laser

The European Data Relay System (EDRS) will be a unique system of satellites permanently fixed over a network of ground stations, with the first – EDRS-A – already in space. These nodes lock on to low-orbiting satellites with lasers and collect their data as they travel thousands of kilometres below, scanning Earth.

EDRS then immediately sends the data down to Europe from its higher position hovering in geostationary orbit at around 35 800 km, acting as a go-between.

This process allows the lower satellite to continuously downlink the information it is gathering, instead of having to store it until it travels over its own ground station. That way, it can send down more data, more quickly. 

The first two sets of Earth-observing Copernicus Sentinels-1 and -2 are signed up to this service as EDRS’s anchor customers under an agreement between ESA, the EU as owners of the Copernicus programme, and Airbus as the owner and commercial operator of EDRS.

 European Data Relay System (EDRS)

EDRS’s ability to relay Big Data to Europe in near-real time is extremely valuable for a mission such as Sentinel-2. Its high-resolution images not only help to improve agricultural practices and map changes in land cover, but they also assist in monitoring the world’s forests, detecting pollution in lakes and coastal waters, and contributing to disaster mapping.

Many of these applications rely on imaging the same area in quick succession.

EDRS-A will now begin relaying hundreds of gigabits of these time-sensitive data every day over a single laser beam stretching across space, all while the two satellites are traveling at a relative speed of up to 28 000 km per hour.

The Ganges Delta, relayed by EDRS-A

This feat of engineering has been tried and tested with Sentinel-2A’s cousins, Sentinel-1A and -1B, who have been imaging Earth since 2014, and Sentinel-2B, who started operations with EDRS on 25 October 2017.

Since using EDRS, the Sentinel-1 constellation has increased the amount of data it produces by around half, with Sentinel-2A and its -2B twin on their way to mapping all of Earth’s landmass every five days, aided by the SpaceDataHighway.

The second EDRS node, EDRS-C, will double the system’s capacity after its launch.

The EDRS–SpaceDataHighway is a public–private partnership between ESA and Airbus, with the laser terminals developed by Tesat-Spacecom and the DLR German Space Administration. 

Related link:




DLR German Aerospace Center:


Airbus website:

Airbus SpaceDataHighway services:

Image, Video, Text, Credits: ESA/ATG medialab/contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2017), processed by ESA, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO.


lundi 12 mars 2018

Investigations this week set the stage for longer missions in space

ISS - Expedition 55 Mission patch.

March 12, 2018

Image above: Flying over China seen by EarthCam on ISS, speed: 27'621 Km/h, altitude: 404,51 Km, image captured by Roland Berga (on Earth in Switzerland) from International Space Station (ISS) using ISS-HD Live application with EarthCam's from ISS on March 13, 2018 at 00:44 UTC.

Kicking off the new week, the Expedition 55 crew aboard the International Space Station continued studies evaluating crew health, performance and sustainability for long-duration space missions.

For one such investigation, a crewmate set up Neuromapping hardware to perform tests for Flight Day 90, conducting strapped in and free-floating body configurations. This experiment studies whether long missions can cause changes to brain structure and function, motor control and multitasking abilities, as well as how long it would take the brain and body to recover from the possible effects. Previous anecdotal evidence supplied by astronauts suggests that movement control and cognition can be affected in microgravity.

Image above: The crew continued work with Veggie-03, watering the lettuce plants, documenting growth and selecting some for consumption. Image Credit: NASA.

The crew also continued work with Veggie-03, watering the lettuce plants, documenting growth and selecting some for consumption. Veggie-03 supports the concept that for future long-duration space missions, a fresh food supply can be grown in space to supplement the crew while far from home.

On the ground, Expedition 55-56, consisting of Soyuz Commander Oleg Artemyev and NASA Flight Engineers Ricky Arnold and Drew Feustel, checked off more reviews of launch day and rendezvous procedures in anticipation of a March 21 liftoff from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in a Soyuz MS-08 spacecraft. They will join the crew already in orbit following a March 23 docking.

Related links:



Expedition 55:

Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

Images (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Mark Garcia/ Aerospace/Roland Berga.

Best regards,